Here is today's summary of economic development news, a free service of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, representing Alabama's private sector investment in economic development. If you enjoy NewsFlash, thank an EDPA Partner.
Auto industry on a roll in Alabama (editorial)
Published: Monday, December 19, 2011, 7:01 AM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - When a secret contract dubbed "Operation Rosewood" was penned in 1993 to bring Mercedes Benz to Alabama, few would have ever thought of Alabama becoming one of America's top automobile manufacturing states .
Mercedes unquestionably put Alabama on the radar of other automakers when it chose a site near Tuscaloosa for its first full assembly plant outside of Germany.
Since then, Honda has built a production factory near Talladega. Hyundai has opened a full assembly plant in Montgomery.
The resulting supplier chain factored into Toyota's selection of Huntsville for its sprawling engine plant. Second-tier companies are also benefiting from car plants in Tennessee and Mississippi.
The Birmingham News reported last week that Alabama now ranks 5th in U.S. auto production and is on pace to become No. 3 as the Alabama plants ramp up production with additions to their assembly lines.
Alabama's 2010 auto output reached nearly 698,000 vehicles in 2010, finishing behind Michigan with 1.6 million; Ohio, 1.1 million; Indiana, 890,000, and Kentucky, 739,000, according to The News.
If all goes as projected, Alabama's annual auto production would near 900,000 in the next couple of years.
OUR VIEW: UAB must have strong support -- and money -- to fully seize its potential for the benefit of our community
Sunday, December 18, 2011, 5:45 AM
What's the old saying -- "Spend a dollar to make a dollar"?
What if you could spend a dollar to generate $16? You'd be digging under sofa cushions looking for every penny you could scrape up to buy into such a venture, especially if there were four decades of evidence showing the investment paid off.
So why isn't state government spending like crazy on the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where, according to a UAB-generated report last year, every state dollar invested generated $16.23 in statewide economic activity. That's a better return than peer institutions such as the University of California Los Angeles ($15.92); the University of Iowa ($15.81); the University of Wisconsin-Madison ($9.55); and the Georgia Institute of Technology ($7.85).
There are other numbers that make the case for stoking as much as possible a premier economic engine for the metro area and the state.
* UAB brought in close to half a billion dollars in outside research funding in 2009, about $270 million from the National Institutes of Health, according to UAB statistics. In 2010, UAB ranked 20th nationally in NIH funding, rubbing shoulders with the country's most prestigious schools such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins.